27 March 2014

Ghana: MPs Call for Protective Measures Against Ebola Virus

press release

Members of Parliament (MPs) have expressed concerns over the alarming rate at which the Ebola pandemic is sweeping through the West African region and appealed to government to put in place measures to protect the public against the deadly disease which has hit some West African countries.

The legislators who were contributing to a statement by the MP for Wa West, Joseph Yieleh Chireh, on the floor of the House yesterday said although the disease is alien to the country, it has no cure.

Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever that kills up to 90 per cent of its victims within few days. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the disease has no known cure.

Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, in his statement disclosed that since the disease hit Guinea this month, 59 out of the 80 reported cases have resulted in deaths.

He said reports indicated that aid workers and health officials in Guinea had been battling since Monday, March 24 to contain the epidemic, thought to be West Africa's first outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

According to him, Liberia had already reported six suspected cases and recorded five deaths, adding that "as we all know, the Republic of Ivory Coast is the only country between Ghana and Liberia".

Mr Chireh, who is also a former Minister of Health, said the disease was one of the world's most virulent diseases and was transmitted to humans from wild animals and between humans by direct contact with blood, faecal matter or sweat, or by sexual contact, as well as unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.

He noted that Ebola in some instance could cause key human organs to shut down, leading to unstoppable bleeding.

He said Fruits bats were natural hosts for Ebola, hence, the ban of their sale and consumption by the Guinean authorities, adding that some health publications had described the disease as a "molecular shark".

Some symptoms of the disease, he said, include severe fever and muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhea.

Mr Chireh recommended that the Ministries of Health, Interior, Foreign Affairs and the National Security should urgently set up an inter-agency taskforce to monitor the situation from the country's entry points and take steps to stock relevant medicines.

"The Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Taskforce, should take steps to stock relevant medicines and prepare emergency teams in the event of the outbreak," he said.

He also urged the Health Ministry to initiate measures including public education to whip up public awareness on the disease.

The MP for Nhyiaeso and Minority Spokesperson on Health, Dr. Richard Anane, in a contribution supported calls for government to put in place measures to prevent the outbreak of the disease in the country.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in Nzara, Sudan, and in a village in Yambuku, Congo near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

"Ebola is introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals," the WHO website notes.

"In Africa, infection has been documented through the handling of infected chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines found dead or ill in the rainforest."

The WHO warns of burial ceremonies in which the deceased person can play a role in the transmission of Ebola. The transmission of the disease via infected semen can occur up to seven weeks after clinical recovery.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn the symptoms of Ebola include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and lack of appetite. Some patients also experience rash, red eyes, hiccups, cough, sore throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing and swallowing, as well as bleeding inside and outside of the body.

Source: ISD (Gilbert Ankrah & Richie Osei Asiedu )

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